Ramesh Singaram, president of GE Gas Power’s Asia Region, GE Vernova, encourages more Malaysians to step up to global roles

He also talks about the qualities he seeks out when hiring talent.

Options: In a career landscape that rarely sees someone stay with a single company for long, your story is a rare one. What is it about GE that has kept you loyal and engaged for almost three decades
Ramesh Singaram: I am motivated by a purpose-driven career that creates a lasting positive impact on the world. As a global company dedicated to solving problems for the world for over 130 years, GE has indeed been a meaningful place for me to grow and learn. The initial allure that brought me to GE was its leadership in technology and innovation. Over the years, I began to see the true value of the impact of innovation in helping customers and improving critical areas of socioeconomic development, be it in healthcare, aerospace, the power sector or beyond. I also found ample opportunities within GE to grow and hone my skills in various roles and functions, including learning how to navigate a highly matrixed organisation, interacting with diverse groups of people and rallying teams together. GE’s deeply embedded learning culture consistently fuels my curiosity to learn and my passion to do better. I have also been fortunate to have the support of the right mentor figures and sponsors, whose guidance has been essential in helping me stay engaged and chart several successful pathways across the various industries that GE operates in globally.


What advice would you give to employers who want to keep their team equally happy, engaged and consistently performing superlatively?
A team that is happy, engaged and consistently performing sustainably is what I consider a thriving workforce or an integrated team of people all aligned to a common purpose. For GE Vernova, we have our common mission, which is to enable ‘The Energy to Change the World’. I am a believer in the concept of ‘role above job’ — that is, striving and achieving beyond your job description for the collective good — be it for the company or broader community.

You were also the first Malaysian to be appointed a GE officer in 2016. Tell us a little about what that meant to you and how it made you feel.
Malaysia has always been home to my family and me, even as I travel worldwide as a global senior executive. Taking on the job of the first officer in Asia brought with it a certain weight of responsibility. It was not just a personal achievement but a role that held significance in paving the way for other Asians in this space. There is pressure to perform, heightened by the fact that I am a representative of Malaysians. I hope the example of my career can inspire and encourage Malaysians to explore professional and personal growth outside of their comfort zones. In the longer term, I sincerely wish to see more of my fellow citizens step up and take on the challenge of succeeding in global positions at international organisations.

You are an alumnus of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. What were the most important lessons you learnt as a student at a Malaysian institution and how did they help you when you went out to work?
Both my educational upbringing and my career have taught me that consistent learning and upskilling do not end after graduation from school, but these important principles also carry on in the professional setting. I was never overly concerned about attending an international versus a local university; my focus then was to gain real life exposure. And the environment at UTM provided that. Be it in the classroom or outside on the field playing sports, I constantly sought opportunities to interact with people from all walks of life. I was curious and hungry to learn more about the world.

A pivotal moment during my university years at UTM was securing a TNB (Tenaga Nasional Bhd) scholarship, providing invaluable practical training that bridged the gap between theory and real-world application. The transition from a small town to a larger one during my time at university underscored the importance of adaptability, a lesson that remains invaluable in the ever-changing landscape of my career, especially with GE.

I carry forward the ethos of continuous professional development. I feel it is important that companies support employees’ professional development regularly, including enabling resources to build up one’s networks and providing robust career guidance through help from other employees and mentors. GE Vernova is committed to developing the talents of more than 70,000 employees worldwide. In Malaysia, we are also committed to growing the country’s next generation of clean-energy leaders and engineers, and have partnered with universities such as Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Universiti Teknologi Petronas and Taylor’s to drive apprenticeship, hiring and educational initiatives for students.




You started your career with Tenaga Nasional. What were the early days like?
I started as a gas turbine maintenance engineer for Lembaga Letrik Negara, now TNB. As an engineer in the field, I feel my career growth has benefited from various programmes driven by TNB, especially those driven by TNB Integrated Learning Solution (ILSAS), coupled with the priceless practical experience of working in the field with the various teams. In addition, this experience gave me early exposure to the inner workings of the power industry. Looking ahead, ensuring Malaysia’s future energy transition will require the right talent and people, as well as investments in expanding skill sets for the current workforce to upskill into adjacent emerging and high-growth roles. Partnerships with universities and training institutes such as ILSAS will be essential for the energy and decarbonisation sectors.

What was your original childhood ambition?
I have always been drawn to solving difficult problems to improve the quality of life, hence the reason I actually wanted to be an engineer when I was growing up. I lost my father at an early age. His passing was a pivotal moment for me, and I was driven by the need to fulfil the basic needs of my family. I saw the hardships my mother, my pillar of support, had to overcome while raising me and my two brothers. I was then motivated to graduate and enter the workforce to support my family while gaining as much hands-on experience as possible. This childhood ambition is perhaps why I was drawn to GE when I was older, as the company has a deep history of innovating technology to solve the world’s most challenging problems for more than 130 years. Having said that, my journey was not a straight line. Bridging the jump between learning and practice, my job was really a vehicle for wisdom and learning how to apply the things I had learnt.

What advice would you give young people in search of success?
The qualities I really value — and look for in interviews — include an eagerness to learn, the ability to grow from challenges faced and a strong belief in looking to create a positive impact in lives and communities. Beyond the success metrics, the questions I pose are usually geared towards understanding how candidates overcame challenges. Rising above setbacks and being adaptable are very important traits. I also find that having a positive attitude and treating others with respect are vital. Soft skills are key to success.

What are you reading right now and why?
I am always on the road; so, I stay up-to-date with trends via e-global news and trends while travelling.

What are you listening to right now?
A lot of Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. You can tell that this is influenced by my daughter, with whom I have a very close relationship. I find these singers to be full of talent, soul and immense power. Plus, seeing them perform and interact with the crowd is really inspiring. You can learn a lot, even from a leadership perspective.

Describe your idea of a perfect weekend.
I am based in Kuala Lumpur but travel a lot for work; so, family time on weekends is especially cherished and anticipated. I like playing sports to de-stress and enjoy experiencing and seeking out culinary adventures. 


This article first appeared on Apr 1, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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